X-Men 3... oh the disappointment.
We begin by cloddishly relocating "the not too distant future" to "the present." One of the beautiful things about Singer's location scouting is that he found places of unusual and interesting architecture so that there was a slight otherness about the reality).
While a friend of mine theorized that the point of the movie was propaganda for the army reserves (a theory supported by the ever tacky shots of "Fox News" whenever there was television coverage), I found that the movie didn't have any meaning or intention behind it whatsoever.
Hugh Jackman will sell you a car!
But, if I were to assign a message to the whole thing, it's that the biggest punch wins the day. That was what really annoyed me about the final fight scene at the end. Okay, yes, in the comics the climaxes are always these ridiculous splash pages where 40 mutants are fighting on a page. But one of the things Singer was very wise in framing was that in X1 and X2, combat is always a means of last resort; also, the fighting in those was secondary to a greater objective (in X1 stopping the mutation machine, in X2 stopping Dark Cerebro). In light of current events, such as, oh, a war, I found this to be irresponsible story telling, and irreverent of the backbone of the X-Men; the idea of the reluctant soldier was just tossed out the window. Compare this to the intelligence and planning that went into Neil Gaiman's masterful Marvel 1602, where in the wake of 9/11, he purposely wrote a story where might didn't make right.
Here, not so much.
Also, was it just me, or was there not that many mutant effects? The budget was way revved up from the second movie, but for all that it seemed like there were just lots of explosions and the Phoenix de-molecularizing effect.
To be fair, most of it wasn't Ratner's fault; the script was in place when he came on (the script that Matthew Vaughan came up with; Vaughan, who came in and said "the X-men are sure dumb. Let's just kill off 3 of them at various points and call it a story.") I read an interview where Ratner said that the first thing he told Fox exec Tom Rothman when he read the script was "you can't kill off Xavier; he is the X-Men." Actually, I don't know if you know about the scene at the end of the credits (I was out of the theater so quickly that I didn't see it) where Xavier is still alive; it's a short blip of the brain dead guy who was on the TV with Moira McTaggert, and Patrick Stewart's voice says "Hello Moira," and she says "Charles?" This, apparently, Ratner wrote and shot without telling anybody at Fox. So I give him credit for that.
What depresses me is that Singer wrote a whole treatment for X3. And it was probably good. It was probably very good. And there was so much layered into X2 that he was obviously going to pick up on. And I'm sad because that movie will never be made.